Polyunsaturated fat. An excellent source of DNA-disrupting free radicals, thyroid-killing omega-6 fatty acids, and metabolism-squashing inflammation. Better load up on that oily “buttery spread” that’s jam-packed with the stuff, right? I mean, hey — the American Heart Association says so!
Well, dear readers, I’m quite confident that you know better than to follow advice like that. Especially after we spent some quality time last week dissecting the evils of excessive polyunsaturated fat in our modern diet with this post on PUFAs, and the discussion that followed.
A few people commented and contacted me saying that they were more than a little freaked out by this part:
Oh and, wanna know another fun little factoid about how badly the consumption of these PUFA oils have affected us? Polyunsaturated fats actually accumulate in your cells and can be passed on from generation to generation. So, for over a century now, we’ve been experiencing the cumulative effects of all that excess PUFA on every cell of our bodies — inflammation, thyroid disfunction, leptin resistance and all. Thanks so much for switching to Crisco, Grandma! It takes years and years to flush out PUFA from your system, even if you cut your consumption of it right away.” PUFA: What is it, and Why Should it Be Avoided?
Um, yikes! Kinda makes you wonder how you could counteract the toxic effects of PUFA while they set up camp in your cells for years to come, or even if there might be ways to help flush them out.
Unfortunately, the half-life of fats in human adipose tissue is about 600 days, which means that significant amounts of polyunsaturated fats may still be present in your cells over four years after they were consumed. Gross!!
Real Food to the Rescue: Fight PUFAs with Coconut Oil
Thankfully, if you’re relatively new to the wonderful world of saturated fat, and you’ve been a PUFA-abuser in the recent past, there are some simple ways to do a little damage control. Dr. Raymond Peat, a well-known pro-real-food researcher with a Ph.D in biology and physiology, is one of the leading experts in the field today on thyroid functioning, metabolic health, and the effects of polyunsaturated fats on the body.
Dr. Peat says that simply adding a good, healthy dose of coconut oil to your daily diet is an excellent way to combat the effects of leftover PUFAs stuck in your cells.
An important function of coconut oil is that it supports mitochondrial respiration, increasing energy production that has been blocked by the unsaturated fatty acids. Since the polyunsaturated fatty acids inhibit thyroid function at many levels, coconut oil can promote thyroid function simply by reducing those toxic effects. It allows normal mitochondrial oxidative metabolism, without producing the toxic lipid peroxidation that is promoted by unsaturated fats.” Dr. Ray Peat, Ph.D
Coconut oil also helps to reduce oxidative damage from the free radicals present in polyunsaturated fat in the body. That’s because coconut oil has beenshown to act as a very powerful antioxidant.
Dr. Peat explains why in his article on coconut oil:
“Coconut oil that has been kept at room temperature for a year has been tested for rancidity, and showed no evidence of it. Since we would expect the small percentage of unsaturated oils naturally contained in coconut oil to become rancid, it seems that the other (saturated) oils have an antioxidative effect: I suspect that the dilution keeps the unstable unsaturated fat molecules spatially separated from each other, so they can’t interact in the destructive chain reactions that occur in other oils. To interrupt chain-reactions of oxidation is one of the functions of antioxidants, and it is possible that a sufficient quantity of coconut oil in the body has this function.”
Vitamin E for Pro-Thyroid and Anti-PUFA Effects
Another important dietary addition to counteract the anti-thyroid function of polyunsaturated fat is vitamin E, which is also an antioxidant. But popping a vitamin E capsule might not be the best way to get it.
Dr. Peat says that vitamin E supplementation should only be used “sparingly” because “the quality of commercial nutritional supplements is dangerously low.”
So of course, the natural solution to vitamin E supplements, is vitamin E found in… food! Novel concept, right? Some of the foods highest in vitamin E include grass-fed butter, grass-fed meat (four times higher in E than grain-fed), pastured eggs, and quality seafood.
But your need for vitamin E could even be lessened, if you’re using coconut oil, according to Dr. Peat.
“It is well established that dietary coconut oil reduces our need for vitamin E, but I think its antioxidant role is more general than that, and that it has both direct and indirect antioxidant activities.”
So, how much coconut oil do you need? Dr. Peat says that even just a tablespoon of it per day can help provide you with the pro-thyroid, pro-metabolic, anti-oxidative effects coconut oil can offer. Combined with antioxidant and vitamin E-rich grass-fed animal foods, it sounds like those pesky PUFAs stuck inside you don’t have to be quite so menacing, after all. Just be sure to keep away from them as best you can from now on!
Also, be sure to check out one of my favorite resources for metabolic health, Diet Recovery, to learn more about the effects of the right and wrong fats on your metabolism, and how you can fix it.